The regional perspective

  • The IFRC recognizes that women and men have different capacities, strengths, needs and vulnerabilities, each of which can impact on their resilience to disasters and crises. There is substantial evidence worldwide (and within the Southeast Asia region) of the negative impacts on women, girls, boys and men when humanitarian assistance is not adequately sensitive to gender or diversity considerations.
  • When gender and diversity equality is actively promoted, it can positively transform and enhance individual lives as well as societies as a whole.
  • The Fundamental Principle of impartiality: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress. 
  • Non-discrimination is the refusal to apply distinctions of an adverse nature to human beings simply because they belong to a specific category, including on the basis of sex or age. All those in need shall be helped. For the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, impartiality means that the only priority that can be set in dealing with those who require help, must be based on need. Further, the order in which available aid is shared out, must correspond to the urgency of the distress it is intended to relieve.

Key Definitions


The biological differences between men and women. Our ‘sex’ relates to the biological, physical and genetic composition with which we are born.


A person’s gender refers to the social differences between men and women throughout their life cycles. It relate to the attitudes, behaviors, roles and expectations placed on men and women by society, as a result of them being male or female. The term gender should not be seen as being synonymous with women, rather when we talk of ‘gender’ we are being inclusive of all women, men, girls and boys. Characteristics and expectations placed on a person as a result of their gender are changeable over time and in different situations. They can also vary from culture to culture.

The differences between people. These differences can be physical or social and can include: gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, HIV status, socio-economic status, religion, nationality and ethnic origin. There are many interactions between gender and different aspects of diversity and these can further exacerbate a person’s vulnerabilities depending on the culture or the situation. It is necessary that we understand the differences between people and respecting those differences.

Both men and women having the freedom to make choices, to progress and to develop, without being restricted by the roles or expectations placed on them because of their ‘gender’. Men and women do not have to be the same, but they should have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities.

Gender inequality predominantly impacts negatively on women and girls, as men tend to have more decision-making power and control over resources than women. As such, efforts to advance gender equality need to focus primarily on improving the situation and status of women and girls in their societies. This is a form of Gender Equity.


Marginalized populations are defined as those groups or individuals who are discriminated against or who have less power to provide for and protect or themselves and their families due to aspects of their diversity.


The conditions determined by physical, social, economic, environmental and political factors or processes, which increase risk and susceptibility of people to the impact of hazards.

    • Different Needs - Equal Opportunities: Increasing Effectiveness of Humanitarian Action for Women, Girls, Boys and Men

      4 hours – Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)

    • Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You

      2 hours – UNICEF

    • Gender in Food and Nutrition Security

      14 hours – FAO

    • Child Protection at the IFRC

      30 minutes

    Southeast Asia Gender and Diversity Network
    Southeast Asia Gender and Diversity Network

    e-mail: Ms. Christina Haneef, at


    The Responsibility To Prevent and Respond to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Disasters and Crises
    Comic Preparing for disaster: Protecting girls and boys in disasters
    The document highlights the focus on gender and diversity in disaster risk reduction, by aligning with the Sendai Framework and forging networks and partnerships. It also highlights the intersection with disaster law and risk governance and demonstrating the focus in country level examples, such as in Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines.
    The document provides brief updates on gender and diversity activities in Southeast Asia to leaders, practitioners and national focal points.
    Gender and diversity snapshot May 2015
    The snapshot offers practical examples of gender and diversity analysis in disaster risk reduction and examples of gender and diversity sensitive disaster relief and response.


    With thousands of families living in tents and makeshift shelters, providing improved shelter is a humanitarian priority. Workers recruited both from the camps and nearby villages are constructing long-houses as temporary shelters in the camps, each of which will 8 or 10 families. Several hundred such houses have already been built, but the effort is still ongoing. Myanmar Red Cross will support the construction of up to 160 temporary shelters in the coming months with support from National Societies in the Red Cross Movement.
    Workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao – many of them working illegally in Thailand – have been amongst those worst affected by the floods. Without official documentation, many of them are ‘invisible’ and unable to access basic assistance. The Thai Red Cross has urged authorities to provide information on these groups so that they can receive the support they need. The allocation of assistance must be based purely on humanitarian needs.
    Khammouane Province, Laos, 2015 Handicrafts in action. Women are empowered through weaving and handicraft projects, raising money for their family and community. Photo taken during a Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction simulation. The exercises and drills focus on disaster preparedness and response at village level, ensuring communities are equipped with skills to activate emergency plans and save lives. Through the simulation project Lao Red Cross and partner French Red Cross, with support from the European Union, are improving safety for vulnerable communities.
    9 November 2013: Da Nang RC volunteers and staff preparing the sand to protect houses in Hoa Hai ward, Ngu Hanh Son district, Da Nang city. Photo: Tran Quang Tuan/VNRC
    Volunteers from Cruz Vermelha Timor Leste's Dili branch visits a home as part of a dengue outreach education program.
    Pankala village The village is located about one hour and 15 minute walk from Sutywe village, which is on Keng Tung-Tachilek highway. There is no primary school in the village but children in the village can study up to grade 3 at a school whose teacher is appointed and paid by the village (Primary School is up to grade 5). Altogether 11 children learn at the school. Less than half of the children can go to school. There are 22 houses with 22 households. The total population is 106. Most villagers engage in farming. It is a Christian village and the majority of the villagers belong to Lahu ethnic group. The Keng Tung project renovated the water storage tank having 6 feet in diameter and 8 feet in height. It was day time when we arrived at village. During the health education session there were 14 people with only three men. That was the time when most people in the village were on their farms. Most of the participants were women, children and men who are not engaged in agriculture or who have got some other people to do the work. There were some old men and women looking after their grandchildren. Khine Khine Yu, project assistant, told us that she had to inform in two-three days in advance for those who are engaged in farming to be present at the health education session. One man volunteered to act as an interpreter for the session. Project staff Htoo Hlaing (Mr.) and Khine Khine Yu (Ms.) mainly talked about personal hygiene and environmental problem. They emphasised on the importance of washing one’s hands before and after one’s meals and after washing one’s hands after one gets out from latrines. Water used from houses did not flow well and cow dung was seen here and there at the village. Khine Khine Yu tried to convince the villages to keep their environment clean. She explained, with the help of flipcharts, the benefits that a village can have by keeping it clean.
    Reaching affected people by boat by VNRC staff in Nghe An province
    8 Communication and Advocacy 15360619414_b470a58c2d_m
    Tsunami operation, Indonesia, June 2009, Beneficiares, American Red Cross, Livelihoods, Health and Care, Water and sanitation, reconstruction, houses, Faces of recovery, Photo taken on 22 June 2009 Marlina, 32 year old female, planting rice as part of an American Red Cross and Mercy Corps livelihoods project.

    Document library - Gender and diversity

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